Osteoporosis, bone disease? Give me a break

Osteoporosis is a very serious condition where bones become so weak and brittle they can easily break. Even a sneeze can cause a rib bone to fracture. The most common break however is a hip fracture. This is very serious, often requiring surgery. It can lead to loss of mobility, becoming institutionalised or even death.

Presently 1 in 3 women can expect an osteopathic fracture sometime in their life and 1 in 5 men. It has become an epidemic. Also by 2050 it is expected that osteoporosis will increase 2 to 3 times the present rates. Presently in the US annual treatments cost $18 billion and drugs for the disease cost $9 billion.

Then we have the enormous business of selling supplements, supposedly to prevent the condition. Normally these are calcium and vitamin D supplements or a combination of both.  I don’t know how much those businesses bring in but they certainly have enough for some seriously expensive TV advertising.

Osteoporosis is a disease of the elderly. Is it just a consequence of ageing? Is it due to lack of calcium in our diets, or lack of sunshine (vitamin D)? In some countries osteoporosis is almost unknown. Here an epidemic, there unknown; what’s going on?

We must be doing something wrong. While there’s such a lot of money involved in the drug, supplement, diagnosis and treatments industries, there’s not a lot of incentive to do anything about it. But there’s so much we can do about it.

Bone is an amazing structure. As an engineer I have to admire what nature is capable of in bone structure. It’s the ideal structural sandwich of tough outer (cortical) bone and an inner spongy (trabecular) bone that can rebuild and remodel itself in response to damage or to varying stresses. By the age of 50 the average person will have rebuilt their bones about 5 times over. Osteoclasts are cells we have that breakdown and remove old damaged bone. Osteoblasts build new bone to replace that damaged bone and to remodel bone in response to stress variation.

 As we age our bones become lighter. This is particularly so in postmenopausal women. Once they pass child bearing age they no longer require that reserve of calcium carried by their bones. This is a normal condition but today that condition is diagnosed by a bone density analysis as Osteoporosis. It’s a diagnosis of a disease that often doesn’t exist. Bone density is not the same as bone strength. What we should be looking for is bone strength. So the diagnosis is flawed and the treatment is flawed.

Doctors use drugs designed to stop those osteoclasts cells from removing our old damaged bone and we end up with denser but weaker bones. It’s a bit like a bone made of glass, containing cracks and flaws, compared to a bone made of wood. The glass bone is more dense but easily broken, the wood bone is less dense but difficult to break

The greatest threat to our bones is protein, more so animal protein. All proteins are made up of amino acids. Animal protein have more sulphur containing amino acids. When these are broken down sulphuric acid is a by-product. This acid load is neutralised by taking calcium out of our bones and muscles causing them to break down.

Calcium supplements and dairy weaken bones. Vitamin D supplements can weaken bone and cause other problems. Drugs for osteoporosis improve bone density but reduce bone strength. Many women are being incorrectly diagnosed with osteoporosis and then given drugs and supplements that will actually cause the disease. Falls are more likely as you age. If you are not being treated for osteoporosis you are more likely to bounce than crack.

There is one way to guarantee us strong bones as we age and that’s a whole food plant diet with plenty of sunshine and sufficient exercise Our bones strengthen in response to the loads we place on them. Exercise will mean greater strength, less likelihood of a fall and stronger bones if we do fall.

CAUTION – A WHOLE FOOD PLANT BASED DIET WILL RAPIDLY IMPROVE ANY EXISTING MEDICAL CONDITION. THEREFORE IF YOU CHOOSE TO TRY THIS DIET AND ARE ON MEDICATION FOR YOUR CONDITION YOU SHOULD CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR AND HAVE HIM MONITOR YOUR IMPROVEMENT AND ADJUST YOUR MEDICATION